Caring for Your Kitten - 10 Do's and Don'ts

More on PawNation: caring for your kitten, cat behavior, kittens, new kitten, new pet, Red_Room

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Amy D. Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant and the award-winning author of 23 pet care books, including "PETiQuette; Solving Behavior Problems in Your Multipet Household" and "Complete Care for Your Aging Dog."

Nothing beats kitten fun. But more goes into proper care than plopping food in a bowl and setting up a litter box. Before you adopt, review these 10 do's and don'ts to ensure your kitten love lasts a lifetime.

1. Don't adopt too early. Kittens adopted too young bite and claw more than those corrected by Mom and siblings. They also may be fearful or less tolerant of other cats because they don't understand proper feline etiquette. Cat babies should stay with siblings and Mom for at least 12 to 16 weeks. That's not always possible, though, and if you find yourself in that situation, it means you must be "cat-mom" and teach Junior claw, potty and other manners. It can help enormously to adopt two kittens at once, so they teach each other bite limits and target each other in play instead of your ankles.

2. Do see a vet ASAP. Kittens seem indestructible but get sick easily. A vet's early diagnosis improves the chances of a speedy recovery. Screening tests and preventive care -- vaccinations, flea prevention, worm medications -- save lives and ensure your kitten grows to healthy adulthood.

3. Don't bathe a kitten until it is at least 4 weeks old (12 to 16 weeks is better). Very young kittens can't regulate body temperature and can become chilled from a bath. When you do bathe the kitten, use only kitten-safe products -- adult cat or dog products can be toxic. Introduce combs and brushes immediately to longhair kittens to prevent grooming problems later on.

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